Former Federal Reserve Economist, Meredith Walker Takes the Helm as Department Director

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–America’s leading financial literacy empowerment nonprofit, Operation HOPE (HOPE), announced today that Ms. Meredith Walker will serve as director of the new HOPE Office of Innovation, Research and Assessment. This new department will track the success of current programs, contribute to the development of the new Gallup-HOPE Financial Literacy Index, and analyze the impact of HOPE programs and services on youth, adults and the community at large. The new department will also serve as a benchmark for innovation within HOPE itself.

“One of the department’s first goals will be to help measure the relationship students and adults have to financial literacy and what HOPE calls ‘the language of money,’ and how youth and adults envision their future. Providing youth and adults with aspirationally relevant, practical and impactful financial literacy empowerment programs and services that literally change lives and communities, is the Operation HOPE objective,” said HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant. “Ms. Walker brings to the organization a unique set of skills, background and perspective that will help advance our work. She has my confidence.”

As HOPE's new Director of Innovation, Research and Assessment, Ms. Walker will track progress and orchestrate the measurable impact of the organization’s financial literacy portfolios; including Banking on Our Future, HOPE Financial Literacy Empowerment Centers, HOPE Coalition America, HOPE Corps, HOPE Advisors, HOPE Forums and HOPE Global Initiatives, as well as 5MK (FIVE MILLION KIDS). Additionally, Ms. Walker will seek to provide the data necessary to innovative possible new HOPE programs and services that better address the needs of emerging communities, and those seeking to connect with them in positive and empowering ways. "We seek nothing short of quantifying hope, and giving people and partners the tools they need to create sustainable change in the lives of real people," says HOPE founder John Hope Bryant. "Making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to the poor and the under-served, and work them, is silver rights in action," Bryant continued.

“The recent economic crisis revealed that if capitalism does not justly work for everyone, then it just does not work for anyone. Financial literacy and economic empowerment for all citizens, is not only a matter of economic security, but also a real business opportunity, and a crucial step in advancing democracy and free enterprise,” shared Ms. Walker. “I have long admired Operation HOPE, and am honored, humbled, and pleased to join its talented, dedicated team in its ‘silver rights’ mission to empower underserved communities.”

Prior to joining Operation HOPE, Ms. Walker worked as an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where she conducted economic analysis and risk assessment of payments systems policy and development. She played an active role in meetings of the Bank of International Settlements, Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems, Foreign Exchange subgroup, in the public-private collaboration to create CLS Bank, a new global foreign exchange settlement system designed to reduce systemic risk.

Ms. Walker previously worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas as an economist and special assistant to the President. She participated in FOMC monetary policy discussions and board of directors’ meetings, and addressed business, academic and government audiences on economic issues. She toured China investigating the effects of emergent capitalism on Chinese living standards and U.S.-China trade relations. In 2000 the Dallas Fed published this research as a monograph, China’s Churn. Ms. Walker’s research on regional technology industry clusters in telecom and biotech resulted in her invitation to testify before the Texas Lieutenant Governor’s Advisory Council on the Digital economy. She also provided vision and content for the Bank's award-winning web site. As research assistant to the Chief Economist, she helped produce the Bank’s annual report essays on free enterprise and economic progress.

Ms. Walker began her career at the Federal Reserve in October 1997 from a consulting firm specializing in U.S.–Chinese joint ventures. She received her MS in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where she held a Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship for advanced study of Chinese language and culture. As an undergraduate, she held internships at the Pentagon and State Department Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin Plan II liberal arts honors program with a BA in economics, minors in French and Asian Studies.

Based in HOPE's New York office, she will report to Rachael Doff, Chief of Staff for the Office of the Chairman and CAO, and Mary L. Hagerty, First Senior Vice President and Global Chief of Financial Literacy. Ms. Walker will work directly with Gallup and the newly established Gallup-HOPE Financial Literacy Index Advisory Board.

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Operation HOPE is America's leading nonprofit social investment banking and financial literacy empowerment organization. With more than 400 private sector partners, 3500 nonprofit organizations and schools, and 100 government partners in 69 major U.S. cities and seven provinces South Africa, HOPE has raised more than $500 million in its pursuit of educating, assisting and inspiring the next generation of global stakeholders in financial literacy, economic empowerment and silver rights. Through international initiatives and its principal programs, Banking on Our Future (teaching school children about money), HOPE Coalition America (Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline, 1-888-388-HOPE, financial emergency preparedness and disaster relief), Walk-in HOPE Centers (loans, computer literacy, understanding banking principles), and our 10,000 strong volunteer HOPE Corps, Operation HOPE has delivered services to more than one million low-wealth individuals and assumed the responsibility of piloting the Silver Rights Movement towards making free enterprise and capitalism relevant to all underserved communities. Ambassador Andrew Young, Senior aide to Dr. King in the civil rights movement, serves as global spokesman for Operation HOPE and along with music icon Quincy Jones, serves as co-chair to 5MK (FIVE MILLION KIDS), an initiative aimed at breaking the high-school dropout epidemic in America. To learn more about HOPE, visit www.operationhope.org and www.5MK.org, or read our blog at www.operationhope.org/blog.

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